It's not clear whether the Seattle Seahawks have an identity yet but, regardless, it's impossible not to watch them. The unpredictability is titillating. Two Leon Washington kickoff returns for touchdowns made up for insanely poor clock management and assorted other mistakes as the Seahawks squeezed past the favored San Diego Chargers 27-20 on Sunday at Qwest Field.
That pushed Seattle to 2-1 on the season as they head to St. Louis during Week 4, looking for their first road win of the season against the Rams.
Here's a round up of NFL Week 3 thoughts about the Seahawks before we look ahead to Week 4.
John Morgan of SB Nation's Field Gulls tries to make sense of a nutty victory.
Man, I have no words. I do not even know if I enjoyed this win, not during the win at least. I enjoyed portions of the game. I enjoyed the outcome. I still can not exactly piece together how it happened.
Maybe that's just how it feels when special teams and turnovers win the game.
There wasn't a defining drive, or a big catch, except maybe Earl Thomas's last second interception. Justin Forsett fit a couple nice runs, between battling blockers in the backfield, and Matt Hasselbeck found open receivers, but the Seahawks best pass play ended in an excruciating fumble by Deion Branch. That fumble, much of the game felt like that fumble. Except, in the metaphorical version, Branch tracks down the ball and falls on it for the touchdown.
Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times writes it was all about making plays.
They gave their crowd the whole package. The good. The bad. The OMG. They showed us how far they've come. And how far they still can go.
"I'm excited about the win," wide receiver Branch said, "but I think we can do a whole lot better. This is great, don't get me wrong. It's hard to win even one game in the NFL, but I think we're way better than what we put out on the football field today."
Inside a re-awakened Qwest Field, the Seahawks did what they always used to do. They made plays.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune writes that the Seahawks won despite giving up a ton of yards on defense.
It's not every day you give up 518 yards of total offense, including a franchise-record 455 through the air, and still come out victorious.
"We're not going to win like that all the time," Carroll said. "It took something out of the ordinary, and that's where the kicking game stepped up ... for us."
Williams has more from Carroll on the defensive struggles...
"We made a number of mistakes on Gates as we were shuffling some guys in there," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "And he had a big day, and so did Phil. But when it came down to it, guys made the right plays at the right time to win."
Speaking of the kicking and kick returning game, Greg Johns of the Seattle PI writes...
Washington returned three kickoffs for touchdowns in 2007 when he was a Pro Bowl special teams player for the Jets and also returned one in 2008. His six career TD returns now tie him for second on the all-time NFL list behind the eight of Cleveland's Josh Cribbs.
"I've never had two in a game," he said. "I'm told it's only happened a few times in the league. It's good to be a part of that. But we can get more. We can't be satisfied, we can get more this year."
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune writes that all the preseason roster shuffling is paying off.
"They're definitely showing up," veteran safety Lawyer Milloy said. "We've had, what, 180-190 transactions? Between Pete and Schneid, they have an idea what they want this team to be, first and foremost, and have a vision of the style of player they want."
Actually, the transaction count is up to 195, and some of those were even in the first week of the season and included guys such as Tyler Polumbus and Stacy Andrews, players who have started on the offensive line because of injuries.
"Everybody doubted (Schneider and Carroll), but they really believed that all the moves they did were for the betterment of the team," Milloy said. "It was a little weird at first ... but it's paying off."
Leon Washington had two touchdowns but Seahawks wide receiver Deion Branch gave away another one, when a Charger defender knocked the ball out of his hands right before he crossed the goal line. The ball went out of the end zone for a touchback and possession turned over to the Chargers. Greg Johns of the Seattle PI quotes Branch on the play.
"If the ball touches the tip of the goal line, it's a touchdown. And I was probably 2-3 inches away when the ball started coming loose," he said.
"It wasn't the guy on my heels (that got me). It was the safety that came over. I stiff-armed him and he went around me. I'm never one of the guys to pull out the stiff arm and I pulled it out finally and he made a great play. It's nothing I can complain about. There are a lot of great athletes in this league.
Mike Sando of ESPN.com writes that everyone is back.
Leon Washington is back. So is the "12th Man" at Qwest Field.
The Seattle Seahawks are back, too -- not all the way or even most of the way, but enough of the way to win home games and contend for the NFC West title in a flawed division that nonetheless went 3-1 Sunday.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was just loving life as always during the Week 3 win, writes Greg Johns of the Seattle PI.
"I can't imagine a stadium in this country crazier than those last couple sequences," coach Pete Carroll said after his team emerged with the most-unlikely victory. "That was incredibly cool."
Art Thiel of the Seattle PI shares Carroll's optimism.
But the Seahawks can make the argument that last season they had no luck and less skill. So whether it's cooperation, as Carroll suggested, the home-hollering advantage or the dubious dealings of the opponent, they are pointing in the general direction of up.
As for the Rams, they are still pitiful, despite a Week 3 win over the Washington Redskins.
One bright spot is rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, writes Mike Sando of ESPN.com, although he has struggled on first down.
Bradford has zero touchdowns, four interceptions and a 28.3 rating on first down. He has three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 106.8 rating on second down. Teams can be less predictable on second down, when coordinators have more flexibility with their play calling. Perhaps that accounts for the difference. Bradford appears comfortable when the Rams run a faster-paced offense. Two-minute situations seem to suit him.
QUARTERBACK: Sam Bradford had the most solid outing of his rookie season. He completed 23 of 37 passes for 235 yards, with a TD and an interception. More important, his teammates credited Bradford with being calm yet firmly in control after the Redskins rallied for the lead in the third quarter.GRADE: B
Rams running back Steven Jackson was injured during the Redskins game and Jim Thomas of STLToday.com reports that St. Louis is exploring other options.
The result was a groin muscle injury that ended Jackson's day and has his status uncertain for next Sunday's home game against Seattle. The Rams already are exploring possible options in the backfield.
League sources Sunday night told the Post-Dispatch that the Rams have been in contact with running back Larry Johnson and plan to have further discussions this morning. Johnson, the former Pro Bowler with Kansas City, opened this season with Washington but was cut last week.
When all was said and done Sunday, the Rams and head coach Steve Spagnuolo were just happy not to be 0-3, writes Jim Thomas of STLToday.com.
"Let's face it, we didn't want to be faced with 0-3," Spagnuolo said. "We've been in two prior games where we certainly all felt we could have won, and we didn't. So you were looking for find a way to win, and we did that. We did that today even in the middle of a lot of adversity."
Taken together, the Week 4 road trip looks like an excellent opportunity for the Seattle Seahawks to snag their first road win of the season and to put some added distance between themselves and the rest of the NFC West, where they are tied with the Arizona Cardinals at 2-1 for the top seed.